Industry Professionals Give their Tips for Tipping in Toronto

It seems that tipping for any sort of service has become more and more confusing over the years.

Some say 18 per cent is the new tip average due to ‘tip inflation,’ but with minimum wage increasing in Ontario over the next couple years, will that change the standards for tipping? While is is safe to say those with healthy expense accounts are tipping around the 20 per cent mark and those on a budget stick closer to a gratuity of 10 per cent, what is actually expected by those who work in the service industry and what are the guidelines when it comes to tipping in Toronto?

After speaking with a variety of servers and bartenders, hairstylists and estheticians, Uber drivers and other food delivery persons, here are a few tips for when it comes to tipping in Toronto so you can avoid getting tip shamed. 

Restaurant Servers
Although some are making the case for 18 per cent to be the standard, 15 per cent is always a good place to start for tipping servers. Tip 15 per cent for good service, 20 per cent or higher for great service and 10 per cent for poor service.

Yes, there are times when service is so poor a tip should not be warranted, however, severs have to give workers behind the scenes (ie. hosts, bussers, kitchen staff, bartenders) a portion of their tips based on their overall sales. If you don’t tip, your server has to pull money out of his or her own pocket to tip out others. 

The dollar per drink that applies in many US cities isn’t as strict here in Canada. 15 per cent or a “keep the change” rule is often acceptable. Glass of wine costs $8? Leave $10. Round of beers cost $42? Leave $50.

Jason Miller, who has been a bartender in various cities across Canada for the last 20 years, said tipping should never be less than 15 per cent. “If a patron sits at my bar for multiple hours chatting with me, having multiple drinks, I expect them to tip me well.”



The 15 per cent rule applies here with hairstylists, although people are often more likely to tip them a bit more since they can see the results of the service right away. Also, if separate stylists are doing your shampoo, cut and colour, they should be tipped individually.

Anywhere between 10-20 per cent is typical for spa treatments like facials, eyebrow threading, massages and waxing. But if the spa owner is the one doing your services, it’s practiced across the board that you do not tip them.

Patricia Woods works at a wax salon in downtown Toronto and she said she’s happy with any tip she gets. “For me, it’s not like working at a restaurant where I give a portion of my tips to other areas of the restaurant. When clients tip me, that money goes straight into my pocket and any sort of gratuity is more money than I had before.”

Manicurists usually tend to be tipped less than others in the beauty industry, but since manicures are often pretty affordable, don’t be afraid to tip as high as 20 per cent. However, always remember your tip should reflect the service you receive.



Tipping anywhere between $2 and $5 for shorter rides is most common, while 15 per cent should be applied for longer rides. It’s also generous to give them a couple extra bucks if they help you with your luggage or get the door for you. When it comes to the new Uber tipping debate, feel free tip (or not to) at your own discretion.

Food Delivery Persons
The go-to tip is set between $2 and $5 depending on the size and difficulty of the order and if the delivery person arrives on time. 15 per cent also works as a rule of thumb here.

Michael, who asked that his last name remain anonymous, has worked as a bike messenger for Foodora for the past three months. “I like my job, but sometimes it’s a lot of hard work. Carrying all that food and then biking across the city; a nice tip makes it worth it, though.”

Movers work exceptionally hard to keep your belongings safe and intact, so consider 20 per cent the average here. But if they break or damage something, that may be a different story.

Coat Check Attendants/Bathroom Attendants
When checking a coat at an event or visiting the bathroom in a fancy club, it doesn’t hurt to toss the attendants a dollar or two. But you don’t need to feel obligated to tip them.

As Miller puts it, “Those who work in services will tell you that nobody expects a tip — we don’t want to seem greedy but if we’re working hard and giving you great service, gratuity should be expected.”

RELATED LINK: Tipping in Toronto: Is 18 per cent the New 15 per cent?

Do you agree with our guide? Let us know in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe

Brooklyn Neustaeter

Brooklyn is a Toronto-based journalist and if she isn't writing, you can find her enjoying a nice glass of merlot.
She is a lover of good books, Sunday brunches and running around the city with her girl gang. She's your basic Blair Waldorf in a world of Jenny Humphrey's. You can follow her on Twitter @BNeustaeter.